April 29, 2011

Geisha Tea Cup

One of the things I love doing (when I'm not blending tea) is rummaging through junk-tique stores, eyeing the vintage serving pieces and wishing my life included more dinner parties.  But seeing as I don't even own a dining room, this remains as a fanciful daydream.  But that never stops me from trolling yard sales, thrift stores and places stocked with bric-a-brac from floor to ceiling.  The excitement of the unknown treasures never ceases.

And so it was my good fortune to find this:
By my Internet searching, I found out that this Lithophane Dragonware was made in Japan, made popular in the mid 19th-century.  What looks like an ordinary tea cup magically reveals the picture of a geisha girl when held up to the light. 

 At first, I thought it was just a really cool tea cup.  The raised tactile painting on the dragon and on the cup handle make this a unique find in an of itself, but then to see the spectacular detail that is revealed in the light,  makes owning one of these indeed a prized possession.  Apparently you can eBay whole tea sets...but I never find that as satisfying as having unearthed something like this from the dark recesses of junk-tique store.

Now I've drank tea out of it only once, as I am afraid to wash the cup too often for fear of losing some of the color or the paint.  Like any collector's item it is more about having it than using it.

I wish my camera was more distinct to show you just how many details are present in her hair, her face, even the brocade of her garments. 

It is a true work of art.

I found this really cool website which had some information on Lithophanes, how they are done, and which countries have been known to produced them.  My favorite thing is the Gallery of Geishas and other such subjects that made it into the mad world of the Lithophane.


Perpetua said...

That is unbelievable! I have never seen anything like that! What a find.

SISI JALAN said...

what a cup..


Snowball said...

It is beautiful.

I have several similar tea sets, in different colors and vintages. Some are bona fide collectables while others are new offerings. I was initially drawn to the dragons and found the little geisha intriguing.

As I learned more about them I found their, shall we say, 'less modest' cousins decorating saki cups. I now have a few of them in my collection also.


Beth said...

Please....I need to speak to you about this tea cup...God I am crying writing this....and just put it out there for the world to see. please.... narad_beth@yahoo.com

sebringxxx said...

ive got the full set, its beautiful. im low on funds right now and will part with it, sebringxxxlovr@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

I have a collection of about 15 of these and wondered if anyone new an approximate value